The central fire station in Birmingham city centre is to close this week.
The two engines currently based at Lancaster Circus will transfer on Wednesday to Hay Mills and Aston because those areas have been identified as being at greatest risk.
The move, which means the city centre relies on coverage from surrounding stations, was labelled "crazy and dangerous" by members of the Fire Brigades Union.
They said that by 2010 there would be 10,000 more people living in new city centre lofts and apartments and the city centre was also more vulnerable than ever before to a terrorist attack.
Management have defended the closure, pointing out that there has been a 32 per cent drop in the number of call-outs Central has received in the past three years.
In 2002/03 there were 4,457 mobilisations, compared with 3,051 in 2005/06.
Engines from a ring of stations around the city centre – Aston, Ward End, Ladywood, Highgate and Sheldon – will now attend incidents.
Chief Fire Officer Frank Sheehan said the relocation of the two fire engines would result in a more efficient and effective service to the community but would not affect the overall average attendance times for emergency responses.
Plans to close the Lancaster Circus headquarters were first revealed in 2005, when a public consultation exercise was launched. At the time no date was given for the closure and the public consultation attracted just 47 responses.
The Lancaster Circus headquarters date back to the 1930s and is classed as Grade A Locally Listed, which means it can be knocked down. It has been identified as in need of repairs costing #3 million.
Fire control staff will continue to work out of the building until 2008 when they move to a new regional centre in Wolverhampton.